Lara Knight – 19 March, 2021
This beautiful wildflower door popped up on the Australian Upcycleit Facebook group last week and I had to stop and ask if I could share it. The uneven glass and freeform design looked more like an impressionist painting than traditional stained glass.
So how was it made? Artist Lisa Gill had never tried mosaics with glass before but the response to this style was so enthusiastic we know there’ll be more. We asked Lisa to share her upcycling process.
You obviously like experimenting. Tell us a little about your creative background.
I have always been a lover of anything artsy from a young age. It started with knitting and latch hook which my mum taught me, and my dad is a very good artist so I learnt to draw from him.
I always loved art at school and started dabbling in any craft I could get my hands on really. I have done many and they include crochet, paper tole (three dimensional decoupage), quilling (rolled paper art), making felt animals into baby mobiles, wire sculptures and the two most recent mosaics and needle felting.
Not ever having taken an art lesson or workshop I am self taught in all that I do, which I think is half the fun as it can be a challenge at times but very rewarding.
I now make a living from holding mosaic and needle felting workshops on the peninsula and my house is beginning to look like an art gallery of sorts.
We love these vibrant upcycled glass mosaics. Where did you find the materials and how did they come together?
I had never tried mosaics with glass as I thought it would have to be soldered with lead and very fiddly. A lady saw a Facebook post and offered me all of her offcuts at a very cheap price. She gave me a few helpful hints while I was there and I thought I may as well give it a go. I had the glass paneled door I found on hard rubbish ready to upcycle. I mosaiced it exactly like a normal ceramic tile mosaic and was so happy with the end result! I have now done my laundry window and have a few more windows to do as I have a lot of glass left over.
With the door design I opted for the broken glass look and used a wheel cutter to cut it. I have all of the glass cutting equipment that would make neat shapes but personally I like the not-so-uniform look. I have always wanted a wildflower garden so decided on a wildflower design with the grass and sky, so when I look out of my lounge room window I have a view of very colourful wildflowers!
How do you grout over glass fragments without messy edges? How difficult is the clean up?
After siliconing the glass offcuts onto the substrate glass I grouted with black in the normal fashion. The cleaning afterwards proved to be a little tricky as some of the glass was textured. Grouting and cleaning has always been my favourite part of it all so it wasn’t a problem spending a little extra time on it. Some pieces may even look better without grout which makes it quite quick to do. I did the laundry window in 2.5 hours without grout. Still deciding whether to grout or not.
Will these pieces withstand weather and rain?
Glass will withstand the rain but if used in conjunction with wood it needs to be sealed. A cheap sealer can be made with PVA glue mixed with water. I always look for cheaper alternatives so other people who are on a budget can try it. I love sharing my tips with anyone who is interested and I learn a lot from the ladies who come to my workshops. I have quite a few regulars now and we have all become very good friends and really enjoy ourselves while doing what we all love.
It sounds like creating is an ongoing passion. Do all your walls and surfaces fill with designs or do you sell artworks?
My walls are slowly filling with artworks and all sorts of fun upcycling projects. I do sell when people would like a piece made but I don’t sell the ones I make for myself at this stage. I have a wall full of fun acrylic paintings and I have 4 mannequin torsos I have covered in mirror and tiles. Also two large walls on my deck have mosaic murals on them which I love! Quite the talking piece when people come over.
My next wall in the gallery is going to be an underwater mural which will be very bright. I plan on starting that any day now.
You run mosaic workshops on the Mornington Peninsula. Do you encourage your students to upcycle materials?
I encourage everyone to recycle, whether it’s broken crockery and china, or tiles left over from renovations. Also milk and juice bottle caps and milk cartons. I use the milk cartons to apply adhesive and grout and I am working on a bottle cap mosaic at the moment.
Some people already upcycle and I love seeing their creations and ideas.
You can often find me at hard rubbish piles or in op shops looking for my next upcycle!